By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
March Madness is upon us.
The brackets are set and as the NBA regular season hits its stretch run, basketball fans everywhere will have their attention divided for the next few weeks while the NCAA Tournament provides its usual thrills.
A look around the Knicks' locker room this time of year conjures up memories of epic tourney performances, of great players making names for themselves on the big stage before they were pros. Like the rest of us, the they will be watching when they can, taking in the excitement and rooting for their teams to cut down the nets.
So since they provided us with such enjoyment during their illustrious college careers, we asked some of the Knicks to share their fondest memories of playing in the NCAA's postseason...
Raymond Felton (North Carolina, 2002-05):
"Winning the championship. The whole process of going to the Final Four, going through the whole ceremony and then winning the whole thing. It's one moment you never forget.
"We were No. 1 for a little bit, but Illinois was No.1 toward the end of the year, and we beat them in the championship. It was fun (going head-to-head with Deron Williams). We both actually had the same stats. We both had like 17 and 7. It went all the way to the wire. (Smiling) It was a good game, man."
Shannon Brown (Michigan State, 2003-06):
"Beating Duke and Kentucky in the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8 to get to the Final Four. I think I hit like five or six 3s against Kentucky. (Editor's note: he hit five)
"We were riding together, you know? We were having a shaky year that year, my sophomore year, a little bit of up and down. We had lost in the Big Ten tournament. It was tough for us, but we were riding together and made our way all the way to the Final Four. We ended up losing to North Carolina (and Felton), who eventually won it, but that was my most memorable time."
Earl Clark (Louisville, 2006-09):
"My favorite thing was making it to the Elite 8 (in Indianapolis -- "It was like a home game"), and almost making it to the Final Four.
"The thing that was the coolest was the practices before the games. You know, it's not really a serious serious practice. We'd shoot a bunch of threes, have a dunk contest... And another thing is, when you leave for the game, the cops escort you, so you feel like a rock star."
Cole Aldrich (Kansas, 2007-10):
"I've got two of them, actually. The first one was my freshman year, when we won the National Championship.
"My second favorite memory was... We actually played in the Metrodome in Minnesota, where I grew up. We played Dayton in the 2nd round my sophomore year. I had the first triple-double since Dwyane Wade. I think I had like 13 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocks." (He did)
Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan, 2010-13):
"Trey Burke making the shot against Kansas (in last year's Sweet 16). I think that was the biggest shot throughout the entire tournament, and I think everybody else will agree. It was big because it made us go to the Elite 8 and then to the Final Four.
Iman Shumpert (Georgia Tech, 2008-11):
"The warm welcome after we advanced a round. Our fans at Georgia Tech met us after we got off the bus at the arena."
Toure' Murry (Wichita State, 2008-12):
"My first couple years, we were on the rise, and then by my junior and senior year, they knew we were pretty good. We won many games my whole career, won (Missouri Valley Conference) championships. Once we won that N.I.T. championship in 2011, from then on they knew.
"My senior year, we played well, won the conference championship (and advanced to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament). They went to the Final Four the year after I left, and now this year they're undefeated."